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Financial technology companies embrace artificial intelligence and virtual reality

Adviser finds novel tools at T3 conference to improve client experience and prospecting

Feb 17, 2017 @ 1:11 pm

By Deborah Fox

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(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The best place to get up to speed quickly on the latest and greatest fintech offerings is the annual Technology Tools for Today conference. I have been attending T3 for more than a decade, and I am pleased to report that the conference this week was one of the best.

I went looking for companies that are taking advantage of next generation technology, specifically artificial intelligence. Its power can potentially open up an infinite number of ways to improve the user experience.

AI is still a year or two too young to be the event's débutante this year. However, attendees received a peek of what's in the works.

While there were new emerging companies represented at T3, the most interesting new features came from two of the stalwarts in the fintech space.

Jessica Liberi of Fidelity's eMoney delighted us with a live AI demonstration of an integration between Alexa and eMoney's eMX platform.

She asked Alexa, "What were the last three transactions in my bank account?" and "What will happen to my financial plan if I retire three years early?" and Alexa provided the answer in real time.

The audience knew we had witnessed a first and clapped loudly.

Separately, eMoney senior animator Ryan Gallini showed off the first virtual reality 3D eMX planning experience. This truly blew me away.

I was given an Oculus headset to embark on my 3D, 360-degree experience. I will just say, "Wow!"

A client can view the results of their financial plan within a virtual room that houses Decision Center, their plan dashboard in 3D with colorful graphs and charts that changed dynamically as the plan assumptions are changed. The virtual reality immersion takes the planning experience to a whole new level.

This should grab Next Gen's attention for sure (and others who are young at heart). The VR feature has not yet been released.

(More: Fintechs feature DOL fiduciary tools at T3)

In another presentation, Kevin Knull, Money Guide Pro's president, broke all our self-imposed boundaries of what is possible in terms of asset growth.

His mantra is "Add a zero,"and he reminded us that we are in a world of exponential growth and must stop thinking linearly. Then he proved why.

With Money Guide Pro's financial planning tools, users can click one button in the application and in less than five minutes be up and running with MyMoneyGuide, a virtual planning experience for prospects and clients.

An initial study by the firm found that individuals said the least stressful way to create a financial plan was via a guided online experience at home, without an adviser, paired with an online video session with an adviser afterwards to discuss the results and assist with implementation.

MyMoneyGuide, an effort eight years in the making, uses recorded videos to guide prospects through entering data required for a financial plan. Live chat also is available 20 hours per day, seven days a week.

Once plan data is completed, the information is sent to the adviser to set up a meeting, often times via videoconferencing, to discuss. Skeptical?

One adviser added a link to MMG in his newsletter and in four days yielded 123 "MMG attendees," which uncovered $102 million in new opportunities. A second adviser yielded 321 attendees and uncovered $265 million in new opportunities in 18 days. Prospects were building plans while advisers were sleeping and these prospects were becoming clients exponentially.

Mr. Knull said MMG also is the front end of Schwab Intelligent Advisory.

For advisers, the tool removes any barriers of attracting and engaging new planning clients. As Buzz Lightyear said, "To infinity and beyond!"

Lastly, Redtail Technology, the provider of a popular industry CRM, just released version 2.0, which is faster and offers significant performance improvement.

The ideas for the upgrades came directly from their users. Most visibly, the dashboard has been redesigned to provide users with an at-a-glance view of information they designate to Redtail as most important.

Deborah Fox is chief executive and founder of Fox Financial Planning Network.

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